Presentation of the Outstanding Woman in Business
Award to Cherly Bachelder

as delivered by

The Honorable Nan Hayworth

as accepted by

Cherly Bachelder

at the

Independent Women's Forum 2016 Annual Awards Dinner

November 30, 2016


Nan Hayworth:

Congratulations, Ed, and thank you so much for a really inspiring and beautiful story.  I'm a fellow first-generation American myself and my name is Nan Hayworth and good evening to all our friends here.  I'm a former member of Congress and I was privileged to serve with Cathy McMorris Rodgers who was the first, who is the first, female chair of the House Republican Conference.  And I'm also very, very privileged and proud to be a member of IWF's board of directors, and I am especially honored this evening to introduce our recipient of the Outstanding Woman in Business Award, Cheryl Bachelder. 

Cheryl, we applaud you for your remarkable work as a top corporate executive, philanthropist, wife, mother, and champion for limited government.  Building a stronger and better America requires leadership.  Cheryl embodies that crucial quality in every possible way. 

Cheryl is an entrepreneur who has both sought and created opportunity.  She has created products that improve our quality of life and grow our economy and multiply jobs.  That's exactly what our great country was built on.  That is the American dream that Ed just described so well. 

And Cheryl, as you're pursued your business career you've progressed through a series of very impressive professional accomplishments, remarkable accomplishments.  Since 2007 you've been the CEO of Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen.  

And prior to this she was president of KFC Corporation, Vice President of Marketing and Product Development for Domino's Pizza, and General Manager of the Life Savers Division of RJR Nabisco.  Cheryl, this is not only a challenging career, but also delicious.  

Cheryl, your experiences in business have provided vivid cautionary lessons in how government overreach can limit job creation and economic growth.  You've said that economics is an ecosystem, and how apt.  It's an ecosystem whose goals you envision as including fair wages for every employee and fair prices for customers.  That's the essence of free market capitalism. 

And especially over the past eight years, and we can all cheer once more that our long national economic nightmare has finally ended.  Thank you to so many people here who made that happen. 

But threading that needle, paying your employees fairly, compensating them fairly and making sure that your customers get value for their money, it requires extraordinary resourcefulness and persistence, and Cheryl has these qualities in abundance.  But even more than that, a great business leader understands people: How to motivate and inspire them.  And in this crucial way, Cheryl excels. 

In a recent interview she said trust always begins by one thing, listening.  And that's the heart of her relationship with both her employees and her customers.  I was just talking with Cheryl, it was wonderful to talk with her for just a couple of minutes to get her perspective and she said you know, Nan, I learn the most by talking with our frontline employees and our customers.  And that's really what a great leader does, and it's something that all of us can embrace and emulate.  It follows, of course, that Cheryl is committed to mentorship. 

She is truly an outstanding role model for young women and young men who seek to balance their professional and personal aspirations.  Cheryl has shared her example in her work and her writing, which is a boon to all of us.  And she's shared that example in the way she's lived her life.  IWF is proud to honor Cheryl's many successes and her continued support of IWF's mission and work.  Cheryl, leader and friend, we're thrilled to give you this award.  Our Outstanding Business Woman of the Year, Cheryl Bachelder.


Cheryl Bachelder:

Well good evening, everyone.  I thank you, Nan, for that lovely set of remarks. 

Thank you, Heather, for this opportunity to be with the IWF that you've been such an important part to over these years.  It's truly an honor to be recognized around women who share this belief in limited government and free enterprise. 

To be honest until tonight I wasn't sure we would fill a ballroom, so I'm excited to be with you, all of you believers in those important things.  It has been my privilege to be the leader of a chain restaurant which is a franchising model.  And if you don't know about franchising, it's the quickest path to the American dream.  It offers men and women, Americans and immigrants, the opportunity to own their own business.  At Popeye's the average restaurant owner owns less than five restaurants, typically two or three, and creates a great livelihood for their family, jobs in their community, and opportunity for careers. 

At Popeye's we've distinguished ourselves by making franchise owners the focus of our business model.  We believe that our corporate success is only measured by the success of those that we serve. 

Someone named Robert Greenleaf became a famous writer around an idea called servant leadership over forty years ago.  And he said this: He said at the extreme, there are two kinds of leaders.  A leader first who largely assumes power for personal interest and personal gain.  At the other extreme is a leader who serves first.  They also assume power, but for the benefit of the people in the enterprise.  He said something that I've carried with me for years, which is that the test of a servant leader is – are the people actually better off? 

At Popeye's we wanted to give this idea some substance and some results to lean into.  A case study, if you will.  We've written a book called Dare to Serve that explains the leadership style that has driven superior performance of our company now for nine years.  We define Dare to Serve leadership this way: It is a leader with the courage to take the people to a daring destination, yet a leader humble enough to go with the people on the path to that place.  And we find it's in the tension between the leader's courage and humility that the conditions for superior performance results occur.  For you see serving others does perform. 

My personal passion and purpose is to develop leaders who are purpose-driven and exhibit competence and character in all aspects of their lives.  I will tell you that the small bit of pessimist in me abhors the leaders that have been celebrated in my lifetime that are self-absorbed, high ego, and low integrity, but largely have dominated our magazine covers.  The optimist in me is very excited about the next generation of leaders.  Leaders who are going to serve the people, our enterprises, well – and do so over self-interest.  I think we have the opportunity with the millennial generation to create the best generation of leaders in history.  But it's going to require a whole lot more of you to adopt, role model, and coach this generation of leaders to help them determine what it looks like to lead with a moral conscience, with good judgment, with skills, and create places where people thrive. 

Why is this idea so important of servant leadership?  I'll let someone else tell you.  His name is Max Stackhouse.  He is a retired theology professor from Princeton.  He wrote this many years ago in the cover, in the introduction of a book called On Moral Business.  He said this:

Some things are clear.  The corporation has become one of the strongest institutions of our day.  Families split but companies endure.  Governments fall, but firms expand.  The steeples of churches are dwarfed by the towers of industry and people now say they learn more at work than they did at school. 

In other words, he goes on to say, business leaders are increasingly the stewards of civilization.  The burden of leadership in the next century is likely to fall on business management in a way that has never been seen before in the case of human history.  For me personally these words have inspired me but I've also seen them to be true. 

Someone tonight asked me about one of our restaurants in the country of Jordan in the Middle East and he said you know it's called Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen.  I said yeah, I know.  And it serves really good food.  But behind that counter is a business model just like we have here, with seven or eight nations of people preparing your food, serving you as our guest, and growing in their career path in the restaurant industry.  So I have been honored and privileged to serve in the capacity of a global business executive, developing leaders, training up next-generation leaders who I hope will demonstrate some of these qualities that I've talked about tonight and create better environments for people to take risk, learn, and grow. 

I've come to understand that whether you lead in business, government, the professions, the home, or the community, that you too have an opportunity to develop a great next generation of leaders.  And I encourage you to join me in that path. 

We don't want to develop any more legends, we want to develop some legacies. 

I'm grateful that God has given me the opportunity to serve Him and just one corporation, and I hope that it has brought Him glory. 

As I close this evening I give you my deepest thanks for this honor and the opportunity to celebrate it with you.